Meet Mercy Tolentino Steenwyk
Employees: Under 10
Region: Los Angeles
Success with Vistage
- Grew her startup to a $10M+ company
- Transitioned from entrepreneur to successful purpose-driven CEO
- Hired employees capable of taking over day-to-day operations
- Maintained sharp focus on the big picture and competitive advantages
- Shifted from desire to sell company to succession planning and embarking on a higher mission
“I felt it was a group I needed because it enabled me to continuously grow — not only in the world of business, but in all aspects. We learn a lot from each other’s successes and failures.”– Mercy Steenwyk, CEO, Forensis
After arriving in the U.S. from the Philippines at the age of 25 with a journalism degree and little else, Mercy Tolentino Steenwyk worked as a marketing manager and consultant in construction. She identified a need within the construction and legal industries for a multi-disciplined process of selecting the best experts and consultants to render objective technical and scientific analyses. This prompted her to launch ForensisGroup, which would abide by the motto, “Nothing has more impact than the truth.”
While Mercy’s success in a traditionally male-dominated industry was impressive, she needed a support group, Vistage, to help her step back from her previous responsibilities and focus on the big-picture strategic questions facing a CEO. This challenge — one faced by many new CEOs — prompted Mercy to nearly sell the business she had worked tirelessly to build.
“The life of the CEO is great, but only if you know how to be a CEO,” she says. “I credit Vistage with the environment of learning and support.”
The Vistage platform immediately resonated with Mercy, who has a thirst for learning. “When you have a growth mindset, there is so much you can learn from everyone,” she says. “When you are humble, when you are open to growing, you can drive your life with purpose.”
Mercy says joining Vistage provided her with an “instant board of advisors” — people who have helped serve as sounding boards, provided advice and influenced those decisions that have served her company. Her Vistage peer group guided her and held her accountable as ForensisGroup grew, listening to the pain points that arose over the years and offering advice that has made all the difference.
“I felt it was a group I needed, because it enabled me to continuously grow, not only in the world of business but in all aspects,” she says. “We learn a lot from each other’s successes and failures.”
Mercy’s advisory board picked up on a common hurdle for entrepreneurs: letting go. They imparted strategies for recruiting and retaining qualified employees who could take over day-to-day operations. Learning to trust her team freed Mercy to lead her company.
Not only did Vistage empower Mercy to embrace the role of CEO, it reminded her why she had started a consulting business in the first place. “Vistage enabled me to see that being a CEO is fun, and being CEO with a higher mission is even more fun. This is my passion. It helped me learn to be a good CEO and drive everything I do with purpose,” she says. “Without Vistage I might have sold my company.”
Instead, she grew it into a $10 + million enterprise.
Mercy believes ForensisGroup can be the most socially conscious company in its space, and she aims to challenge and inspire other businesses to be purpose-driven as well. She’s excited about the bright future of ForesnisGroup and its mission of advancing truth and moving the world forward.
Now when she thinks about the future, she no longer thinks about selling, but about transitioning. She feels her company is self-sufficient and is focused on preparing her employees to oversee ForensisGroup into what looks to be a bright future.